With rollercoasters, rockpooling and reptiles aplenty, there’s no chance you’ll run out of things to do in Devon. This unspoilt county, in the southwest of the UK, has expansive moorlands, ancient sites and wide beaches that are guaranteed to delight the whole family.
There’s much more to beaches than sandcastles. When the waves retreat at low tide on the pebbly Shoalstone Beach, a blanket of rock pools is revealed, hiding an underwater universe of darting, crawling creatures lurking below. Scramble over slippery rocks, lift stones and peer through seaweed to spy crabs, limpets, starfish and anemones. Curious children can carefully fish out their discoveries in a bucket for closer inspection, but should return all they find to the water afterwards.
Long before geocaching, there was letterboxing, which began on the wild expanse of Dartmoor in 1854. Small boxes containing an ink stamp and book are hidden all over the moor for intrepid ramblers and energetic families to discover, either by following clues or getting lucky. Finders can stamp a scrapbook to remember the day, then leave their own mark in the book for others, before continuing on past vast mossy heathlands, babbling streams, wild ponies and mystical stone circles.
Bring history to life on an idyllic journey on this traditional steam train, which chugs soothingly past grazing cows, vivid green meadows and glassy rivers reflecting the sky. Alight at Totnes Riverside station to visit the charming Rare Breeds Farm where all the family will coo over dignified owls, fluffy baby ducks, bleating pygmy goats and snuffling pigs. Finish with a hearty cream tea beside the railway tracks – remember the cream goes before the jam in Devon.
Polish off your best pirate impression for a visit to the Golden Hind, a full-size replica of Sir Francis Drake’s Tudor galleon moored in Brixham’s bustling harbour. The original ship was the first English vessel to circumnavigate the globe in 1577 and the five decks of this replica recreate the sights, sounds and smells of that voyage with on-board quizzes and interactive activities to keep children interested. Wander picturesque Brixham afterwards for pastel-coloured cottages, coastal walks and superb seafood restaurants.
If being close to the sea has got the kids intrigued about what lies beneath, Britain’s largest aquarium in Plymouth’s Sutton Harbour has all the answers. They can find Nemo’s lookalike relatives, get up close and personal with jellyfish, stingrays and turtles and even watch five species of shark glide past in the UK’s deepest tank.
Although tales of distant big cat sightings on nearby Exmoor have been shared since medieval times, the area’s renowned zoo is the only place in the UK anyone is guaranteed to spot a pair of black leopards. Visitors can participate in interactive sessions, hear wildlife talks and watch feeding sessions or stroll secluded paths through dense vegetation to see animals including cheetahs, alpacas, howler monkeys and red-necked wallabies.
Sheltered by fragrant pine trees, the postcard-perfect Blackpool Sands Beach is a heavenly crescent of pebbly gold lapped by water so clear it has been awarded a Blue Flag. There’s a shop and café for keeping the family topped up with lollies and drinks, handy showers and parking. Kayaks, paddleboards and wetsuits can be easily hired for the more adventurous.
For a day out with a difference, Kents Cavern transports you straight back to the Stone Age with a sprawling system of caves once inhabited by prehistoric people and Ice Age animals. Expect to hear stories of ancient bone discoveries, dodge round spooky rock formations and even experience total darkness when torches are turned off in the heart of the caves, Britain’s oldest Scheduled Ancient Monument.
Thrill-seekers are in for a treat at Crealy, the biggest theme park in Devon, just a 10-minute drive from Exeter. Rides include the hair-raising Twister with over 310m (1,017ft) of winding track, the log flume and the whirling Maximus Rollercoaster, though smaller (or easily scared) visitors can stick to the splash zone, soft play, go-karts and mini-zoo instead.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.